Chicano Federation Leadership Training Institute

Chicano federation ceo liz ramírez


In 1985, the Chicano Federation created the Leadership Training Institute Fellows Program (LTI) to provide local Latine community members with the skills, knowledge, and networks to become successful community organizers and movement builders for social justice. For the Federation, one of the most significant measures of the impact of social movements is developing the leadership required to sustain institutional changes. From 1985 to 2004, over 360 fellows – including notable leaders such as San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas – graduated from this program.

In May 2023, during the Federation’s annual Unity Luncheon, the Chicano Federation’s CEO Liz Ramírez announced the relaunching of the program after a 20-year hiatus. With the overwhelming support of the community and partners, the program started again in September of last year. “As a graduate, I am thrilled that the Chicano Federation Leadership Training Institute is back. This program had a huge impact on my journey, and I cannot wait to work with the next generation of Latine leaders who will help pave the way so our community can thrive,” Chairwoman Vargas shared with GB Magazine.

Dr. Ted Martínez Jr. and Lidia S. Martínez collaborated with the Chicano Federation to develop the curriculum for the 10-month program. LTI provides half-day educational sessions, mentorship, and network connections to invest in leaders from the San Diego Chicano(a) and Latine communities. “This is just the beginning of a new movement. We aim to connect with leaders across San Diego and our border region to collectively address the issues impacting our communities, such as affordable housing, education, economic development, and advocacy opportunities. We believe in the power of community collaboration and the strength that comes from diverse perspectives working together. This is a call to action to build a stronger San Diego, where our families and communities are our priority. We strive to create lasting change, driven by compassion, equity, and a shared vision for a brighter future,” commented Liz Ramírez.

On June 8, the Leadership Training Institute celebrated its first graduation since 2004 where the participating fellows presented their capstone projects focused on relief efforts from the devastating flood on January 22. Adriana Mendoza, a 2024 graduate, said, “Through my participation in LTI, I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges and inequities faced by San Diego’s Latine community. It was great to hear from leaders in different sectors and how within each sector we can play a role in making San Diego a better community. I plan to use my learnings in my current role and seek ways to engage others in building a more equitable community. I liked hearing firsthand from elected officials about the importance of advocacy. It solidified my commitment to using my voice and taking action to make change happen.”

LTI presenters, mentors, and past graduates, along with over 100 guests in attendance, were part of the emotional graduation ceremony at UC San Diego Park & Market. A celebratory reception with food, drinks, and mariachi music concluded the event.

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Esteban Villanueva